Saint Joan of Arc: The Maid of Orléans. (1)

Joan of Arc (c. 1412–1431), France’s national hero, was canonized by Benedict XV in 1920. Her feast day is May 30 (or May 31 in some places). You have probably heard of Joan and how she saved France, since her dramatic life has been made into several books and movies. Almost 600 years after she was captured and burned at the stake, Joan continues to fascinate people in France and around the world.

Historical Background of Joan’s Life

At that time, France was rapidly developing under a king with strong political power. However, in England, where the power of the monarchy was similarly strengthened, King Edward III asserted his royal authority over France, on the grounds that his mother was a Capetian, and the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) began. Furthermore, during the same Hundred Years’ War, Philip III, Duke of Burgundy, and Charles VII, King of Valois, fought for control of French territory.

Life in the Village of Domrémy: Joan’s Father’s has a Prophetic Dream about her.

While Joan was still a little girl, her father had a dream about her. He saw his daughter traveling with an army—a camp follower.

When he awoke, he told her brothers that if this ever happened, he would ask them to drown her, if they refused, he would do it himself (Mary Gordon, Joan of Arc: A Life).

Joan of Arc was probably born on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1412 (Joan of Arc: A Life). Her father was James (Jacques) of Arc, a peasant from the village of Domrémy in northeastern France, and he and her mother, Isabelle Romée, raised Joan as a devout Catholic. She spent most of her free time in the church. A priest who knew Joan said that she often came to confession.

It would be interesting to know if Joan was indeed born on the Feast of the Epiphany. The Feast of the Epiphany is the day when the wise men took their gifts and went to offer them to Christ the King. It seems to symbolize the life of Joan, who, under God’s guidance, left the village of Domrémi for Chinon, to meet the future king and lead him to coronation. Judging by her father’s dream, and the day of her birth, it would seem that the mysterious divine guidance concerning Joan had already begun.

Joan Guided by Mysterious Voices

In 1425, Joan was about 13 years old.

Some Burgundian and English troops drove away the livestock from the village of Domrémy, looted the church, and burned it to the ground. That same year, Joan heard mysterious voices for the first time one summer day in the garden of her house. At first Joan was afraid, but later she believed that the voices were real and that they was sent by God to guide her (SAINT JOAN OF ARC).

John 14:21 says, “He who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.” Because of Joan’s deep love for God, God granted her a special favor. That favor was that she would go to fight in the battle that would bring a miraculous victory to France.

The curious anecdote of Joan’s audience with the future Charles VII

In 1428, Joan requested the assistance of the local military commander, Robert de Baudricourt, to gain an audience with the Dauphin (the heir to the throne of France). She wanted to convey to the Dauphin a message that she had received from God. Part of the message was that the Dauphin was to be crowned King of France.

At first, Joan was not taken seriously, but she prophesied (correctly) that the French army would be defeated at the Battle of Louvray (the “Battle of Herrings”) on February 12, 1429, and she succeeded in gaining the trust of some high-ranking people. Finally, she was granted an audience at Chinon with the Dauphin, to accomplish the mission entrusted to her by St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret of Antioch.

At the time, the Dauphin considered battle more important than coronation. One reason was that the traditional coronation site, Reims, was in hostile territory. The Dauphin, unwilling to meet Joan, hid among his courtiers in order to deceive her.

However, something unexpected happened. Joan quickly found the Dauphin in hiding. Undaunted, she told him that she did not want him to stop fighting, that the Lord would send help, that the kingdom belonged to the Lord, and that the Lord wanted the Dauphin to become the King. She then told him of her God-given mission to liberate Orléans and march on Reims, where the Dauphin would be crowned.

This anecdote of Joan’s conveyance to the Dauphin of the mission entrusted to her by God impressed upon me the strength of Joan’s faith. During this period, one of the few times a woman could speak out in public was when she was speaking about a God-given prophecy. This social context helps us understand that Joan truly believed that she was obeying the voice of God.

Joan’s Appearance

In Joan’s time, it was not customary for painters to depict a commoner like her; portrait paintings were only for the rich and noble. There are no portraits of Joan made by painters who met her in person.

What little we know of her appearance comes from the few remaining descriptions. Joan is described as being about five feet two inches tall, with a sturdy, short-necked, muscular body; she had short black hair, “large, dark, and grave” eyes (set far apart), and tanned skin. 

The following video is based on historical accounts, and recreates Joan’s appearance.

Joan of Arc Brought to Life| Her Story & Face Revealed | Royalty Now

According to Charles VII’s chamberlain de Boulainvilliers, Joan was strong enough to spend six whole days and nights in heavy armor. It is clear that she was not the delicate waif that later generations romanticized her as, but a sturdy peasant girl.

What does Joan have in common with the saints who appeared to her?

Here we can find similarities between Joan and the saints who appeared to her. I think that these similarities are not coincidental. For example, St. Margaret of Antioch was sometimes conflated with St. Marina, a woman who dressed as a man and entered a monastery. And she was imprisoned in a cave for a sin she did not commit. Joan, too, dressed as a man and was imprisoned. St. Michael the Archangel is often depicted fighting the devil with a sword, and Mary Gordon (in the book of Joan of Arc: A Life) mentions that Joan, though a woman, took up the sword and fought.

May 8, 1429: Battle of Orleans won in the name of God

In early April 1429, Joan, entrusted by Charles VII with the command of the army, took armor and a sword. She had a banner made depicting Jesus and Mary, and set out for Orléans, a walled city 74 miles southwest of Paris.

The Siege of Orléans | Joan of Arc |

At this time, Duke Dunoy, the military commander of Orléans, gave advice to Joan, who had no combat experience. In reply, she told him that the Lord’s advice was safer and wiser than his, and that through the intercession of St. Louis and St. Charlemagne, the Lord would deliver Orléans from misery and oppression.

Joan also persuaded the other captains of the army to follow the Lord’s advice and attack Fort Tourel, where they won a great victory, though Joan was wounded. It is recorded that she actually knew in advance that she would be wounded in this battle, but she did not hesitate to go to the battlefield.

Joan foresaw that the bridge would fall.

“Courage! Do not fall back; in a little, the place will be yours. Watch! When the wind blows my banner against the bulwark, you shall take it!” That is what Joan said to the soldiers fighting with her in the assault on the bridge at Orléans. (In her own words | Joan of Arc |

During the attack on the bridge, she foresaw that the temporary wooden bridge that had been built over a gap in the broken stone bridge would not last long. When the English troops were about to cross the bridge, she warned them to stop. However, the English misunderstood her advice and thought that Joan and her men were afraid of them. They continued to advance, and the wooden bridge collapsed under their weight, causing them to drown in their heavy armor. Needless to say, this unfortunate event for the English gave the French the upper hand. (The battle is explained in detail in this video.)

Finally, the French succeeded in recapturing Orléans. This victory marked a turning point in the Hundred Years’ War. Since then, she has come to be known as “the Maid of Orléans.”

Joan’s Beloved Banner

Rather than engaging in violence, it seems that Joan carried a banner on the battlefield, to inspire her soldiers. Banners were also important for rallying allied soldiers in the chaos of battle.

At the trial in 1431, Joan described her banner as follows:

“I had a banner, which I carried in the field, a standard whose field was sown with lilies. There was a figure of Christ holding the world and on each side of Him was an angel. It was made of a white fabric called “boucassin”. Written above: Jhesus Maria, as it seems to me, and it was fringed in silk” (Banner | Joan of Arc |

It is reported that Joan was more fond of the banner with Jesus and Mary than of the sword. Unfortunately, this banner was destroyed by fire during the French Revolution.

St. Joan of Arc’s Ardent Faith in God.

10 Fear not, for I am with you,

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

11 Behold, all who are incensed against you

shall be put to shame and confounded;

those who strive against you

shall be as nothing and shall perish.

12 You shall seek those who contend with you,

but you shall not find them;

those who war against you

shall be as nothing at all.

— Isaiah 41:10-12      

According to “Joan of Arc: A Life” by Mary Gordon, people who met Joan felt transformed, able to do things they could not do before. Her strong faith, fiery enthusiasm, and immense trust in God inspired those around her and freed them from fear.

Her accomplishments, brought about by God, are like the description in Isaiah. In the 15th century, a peasant girl did not have much opportunity to make an impact on history, but with God’s help, human limitations can be overcome.

Because she followed God’s calling, Joan ultimately achieved the triumph of divine glory. The people who betrayed her and sent her to her executioner perished, but Joan became Saint Joan, and she continues to inspire people today.

The Battle of Patay, 18 June, 1429: Another Miraculous Victory

After her success in the battle of Orléans, Joan immediately reported the victory to the Dauphin. She then urged the Dauphin to be crowned as soon as possible. But in order to reach Reims, the traditional site for coronations, it was necessary to defeat the English army at Patay. Again, Joan promised a great victory for the French. And true to her word, the battle of Patay ended with an overwhelming French victory. On the other hand, Joan was shocked to see the reality of this tragic war. The story of Joan holding the head of a dying English soldier on the battlefield and listening to his dying confession is passed down to posterity as an anecdote that demonstrates this fact.

Fortune at the Battle of Patay

The event that led to victory in the battle was actually the sudden flight of a deer from the forest. The English soldiers raised their voices, and the French, who had now learned their location, launched a surprise attack and were able to repel the longbowmen.

The longbowmen, who were the strength of the English army at the time, had inflicted tremendous damage on the French army. At the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, which must have been still fresh in Joan’s mind, the French army, which was far superior in numbers and equipment, was helplessly defeated by the resourceful strategy of Henry V and the heavy fire of the English longbowmen.

At the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V, who hid his men in the woods, ordered his troops to “make no noise under any circumstances.” If the English had not raised their voices at the Battle of Patay, the British would have had a good chance of success. Knowing the strength of the English army at that time, we can believe that without God’s help, it would have been difficult for the French to win the battle.

On the other hand, while the battle of Orleans was full of mysterious events that can only be attributed to divine intervention, the battle of Patay was not like that.

To what extent was the Victory at Patay due to divine intervention in response to the prayers of St. Joan, to what extent to the strategy and military might of the French army, and to what extent to mere chance? All three played a role, but only God can measure with exactness the contribution of each.

The campaign of Joan and her men in the Loire Valley:
They captured Jargeau on the 10th of June, re-entered Orléans on the 13th, captured the bridge at Meung on the 15th, and took Beaugency on the 16th. It ended with a glorious victory at Patay.

Image: The Maid by Frank Craig

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Happy Pentecost!

Pentecost, the celebration of the Holy Spirit, has begun. The Holy Spirit is symbolized by wind, fire, and doves. At Pentecost, we pray that the Holy Spirit, will bring us blessings.

I learned from a priest’s sermon that in medieval Europe, people spent the week of Pentecost relaxing and celebrating the Holy Spirit. Even today, in many Catholic countries, the day after Pentecost (Whit Monday) is a national holiday. This year, by coincidence, the day after Pentecost is Memorial Day in the United States, so Whit Monday will be a holiday here as well.

The Beginning of the Church and the Tongues of the Holy Spirit

Pentecost is the day when the Church began, in the year A.D. 33. It is the day when the Holy Spirit bestowed his grace upon the assembled Apostles, and gave birth to the only Church recognized by God. In other words, it is the birthday of the Catholic Church.

Factus est repente (Gregorian Chant) (Chorał gregoriański)

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1–4).

The grace of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the tongues of fire, enabled them to speak and understand foreign languages in an instant. The languages miraculously spoken by the Apostles were understood by the native speakers of those languages, who were present when the miracle occurred.

After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the custom of speaking in tongues (or “glossolalia” in Greek) continued in some places in the early Church. Saint Paul discusses the topic in I Corinthians 14.

What exactly the phenomenon of glossolalia in the early Church consisted of cannot now be known with certainty. Some believe that the languages spoken in such cases were completely unintelligible except to God and the angels; others think that the speakers in tongues spoke in foreign languages that they had not learned, but which others who heard them could recognize. Perhaps it was sometimes one and sometimes the other.

Seven gifts of the Holy Spirt

According to tradition, there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, taken from Isaiah 11:1–3, which reads (in the Douay-Rheims version):

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.”

So, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are:

1. Wisdom

2. Understanding

3. Counsel

4. Fortitude

5. Knowledge

6. Piety

7. Fear of the Lord

Jesse is King David’s father, and all the kings of the Jews were his descendants, including Jesus Christ, the final King of the Jews. “Upon whom the Spirit of the Lord will remain,” means that a descendant of Jesse will receive the blessings of the Holy Spirit.

This prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16), when Jesus “saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him.”

The Holy Spirit and Red Rose Petals

Climbing the Pantheon’s Dome on Pentecost – EWTN Vaticano

It is a traditional custom on Pentecost to scatter rose petals from the ceiling of the church at Mass, during the singing of the “Veni Sancte Spiritus” between the Epistle and the Gospel. It is not known when this method of celebrating with rose petals began, but it is symbolic of the “tongues of fire” mentioned in the Bible.

The history and dignity of the Church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres (i.e., the Pantheon in Rome) make it a place of graceful masses. At Sancta Maria ad Martyres, people still scatter rose petals from the ceiling every year on the day of Pentecost, because the rose petals are the symbolic color of the Pentecost. The red rose petals falling from the sky are indescribably beautiful. At least once in my life, I would like to attend Mass at Sancta Maria ad Martyres on the Day of Pentecost.

Peace and Freedom Brought by the Holy Spirit: St. Josemaria Escriva

As explained in this article (The secret to spiritual freedom and peace, according to St. Josemaria Escriva –Aleteia), St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, taught that we can experience peace and freedom only when we deny ourselves for the love of God and separate ourselves from all selfishness and false security. He says that this experience is a benefit that Christ has won for us and that is given to us by the Holy Spirit.

The author of the article goes on to say, “The next time you sit down to pray, consider what it is that holds you back from this spiritual freedom, and what things need to be ‘denied’ in order to find the peace you long for.”

These are painful words for me to hear. I find that (when I look back on my life) my will, words, and deeds are often not in accordance with God’s will. I find it especially difficult to abandon ‘self.’

The Holy Spirit Blowing where it wills.

“The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

Whenever I read this verse, I always imagine the wondrous freedom the Holy Spirit gives us. I get the impression that if we are freed from worldly attachments by the grace of the Holy Spirit and are able to live in spiritual freedom, there will be a refreshing feeling like a breeze blowing through the air.

I would like to pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that I can live as a free spirit, free from attachment to worldliness.

May the Week of the Holy Spirit be full of grace.

image: The dove of the Holy Spirit stained glass by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1660 in the apse inside St. Peter s basilica in Rome

Fatima Prophecy: Three Secrets Revealed by Our Lady(2)

Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the shepherd children six times, and Her message to Lucia included what are known as the “Three Secrets.” Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R., points out, in Fatima for Today, that the secrets revealed in the July and October apparitions are of particular importance (Fatima for Today, p. 53).

The First Secret – the vision of Hell (that Hell is real).

When this secret was revealed to the three children, they had a vision of hell.

Our Lady showed us a vision of a sea of fire in which human souls were screaming in agony and despair. The transparent, humanoid souls were forever trapped in the bowels of the earth with hideous demons in bizarre, never-before-seen animal forms.” (summarized from Wikiwand)

The Bible tells us that hell is real. There are several places in the Bible that describe hell, the place where those who disobey God go if they do not repent. 

For example, The Revelation to John speaks of the souls of the dead who will be cast into hellfire:

“This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14–15).

In Mark 9:47–48, our Lord refers to

“…hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”

In this case, our Lord is quoting Isaiah 66:24, which gives the same description but does not state clearly that it refers to hell. So, the verse in the Gospel of Mark makes clear what is only implied in the Book of Isaiah. Judith 16:17 and Ecclesiasticus 7:17 also describe the punishment of the wicked as “fire and worms.”

Our Lord warns against being trapped in hell for eternity:

“Then [at the Last Judgment] he [the Son of man] will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; ….’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:41–46).

After the children, especially Francisco and Jacinta, saw this vision of hell, they began to suffer often for the salvation of sinners. Jacinta appeals to those who try to follow fads, saying that once a person understands the meaning of eternity, he will do anything to change his way of life, and that a church that follows the eternal Lord has nothing to do with fads.

St. Faustina saw a similar vision of hell

Saint Faustina (1905–1938), a Polish visionary, also had a vision of hell, shown to her by God, to prove to her that hell was real. The horrific vision that she described is similar to the one seen by the Fatima children. She describes the hellfire she saw in her vision as an eternal spiritual fire that causes terrible suffering. In addition, she describes seeing human sinners trapped in eternal torment with the devil, in darkness, with a terrible, suffocating stench.

Perhaps many people think that only those who have committed terrible sins will go to hell. In fact, it is not so simple. St. Faustina tells us that many souls who have fallen into hell were people who did not believe in hell. If one does not believe in the existence of hell, there is a greater risk that one will sin against God and die without repentance.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9–10).

Those who cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, that is, those who do not fully realize that they have sinned, or do nothing when they do realize it, have a greater chance of going to hell. I have sometimes wondered whether or not to go to confession, but after confession I have often realized that, in fact, I had just become desensitized to sin.

As Our Lady of Fatima emphasized, repentance, turning to God and asking his forgiveness, and being reconciled with God—these are the things that will lead the soul to salvation. This fact, and our Lady’s grave warning of the reality of hell, should be taken seriously. This is because we human beings are creatures who continue to sin, and hell is the destination of those who die in a state of sin.

The Second Secret – About the Most Important Events and Movements Shaping Modern Society

The Second Secret is divided into two parts.

Our Lady wants to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart in order to save souls and bring peace. She is asks for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, and for the devotion of the Five First Saturdays, in order to prevent war, famine, and persecution of the Church. If the requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and peace will be granted. (summarized from Wikiwand)

Part 1 

Request: Devotion and Prayer to our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
Prophecy: The end of the First World War.
Warning and Prophecy: If sinners are not sufficiently converted, another world war will occur, beginning in the reign of Pope Pius XI.

Part 2: Consecration of Russian, and Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Request: Devotion to Our Lady of Fatima on First Saturdays.
Prophecy: Famine in many places.
Warning and Prophecy: If the Pope, in union with all the bishops, consecrates Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, there will be peace in the world. If not, the errors of Russia will spread throughout the world, leading to persecution of the Catholic Church.

Our Lady’s prophecy regarding Part 1 of the Second Secret has already been fulfilled, since that was a prophecy about World War II. But the prophecy in Part 2 seems to foreshadow further wars, which may well be in the future.

July 13th: The third secret that was sealed

Sister Lucia had been warned by the Virgin Mary not to reveal the third secret to anyone until the time was right. Told by Bishop Silva to leave the third secret in writing, Lucia wondered what to do.

Then, in January 1944, the Virgin Mary appeared to her.

She said to Lucia, “Do not write down the meaning of the secret as you understand it. Just describe the secret as you see it.”
Lucia obeyed Our Lady’s words, wrote down the third secret, and gave the sealed letter to Bishop Silva. At that time, Lucia asked Bishop Silva to disclose the third secret after Lucia’s death, or at the latest in 1960.

In 1957, Bishop Silva delivered the letter, still under seal, to Rome. However, by 1960, the third secret was still not disclosed.

In 2000, the Vatican finally made the third secret public. It is said that the reason it was not made public until 2000 was because it prophesied the assassination of the Pope.

The Third Secret: The Murdered Pope.

Wooden cross on the top of the mountain on sunset

The vision in the third secret was as follows:

To the left of the Virgin, and slightly above her, flew an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand, crying out, “Penance, penance, penance!” in a loud voice.

In the vision, several bishops, priests, monks, and nuns, along with a bishop dressed in white (probably the Pope), are climbing a steep mountain path with a crude cross at the top. The bishop dressed in white was praying for the dead in anguish and grief, as he passed a large, ruined town with trembling steps.

Arriving at the top of the mountain, the bishop knelt and prayed before the cross, only to be killed by several soldiers. Bishops, priests, monks, nuns, and laymen of various ranks and occupations were also killed and died there one by one. Beneath the two arms of the Cross were two Angels, each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, who gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God (Summarized from Wikiwand).

The Pope in this vision is thought by some to represent John Paul II, who was nearly assassinated on May 13 (the feast of Our Lady of Fatima) in 1981. On the other hand, Pope St. John Paul II survived his attempted assassination, whereas the bishop in the vision did not survive. It seems more likely that the bishop depicted in the Third Secret is not a specific individual, but rather a symbolic figure.

Many people believe that there are parts of the Third Secret that have not been made public. Also, whereas the first and second secrets each contain both a vision and verbal commentary by our Lady, the third secret (as published by the Vatican) contains only a vision, and no commentary.

After commenting on the visions of the first and second secrets, why would our Lady have offered no commentary on this difficult-to-understand third vision? And, if the third secret was only a vision (perhaps showing the assassination of a pope), why was it kept secret, even after 1960?

Actually, there is some evidence that Sister Lucia recorded the Third Secret in two separate documents. (For more information, see Chapter 13 of the book The Devil’s Final Battle, by Fr. Paul Kramer.) The more one learns about the third secret, the more doubtful it appears that the Vatican has given us the whole story.

Oct 13th: The Miracle of the Sun.

For the first time in recorded history, a prophet or seer was asking all the people to assemble at a certain place and time to witness a public miracle to prove that the message which had been received came from God. (Fatima: The Great Sign by Francis Johnston)

On October 13, believers and non-believers alike gathered in Fatima and Cova de Iria to witness the miracle of Our Lady. Roughly 40,000 to 80,000 people gathered. (The exact number is unknown.) The rain that had been falling since the day before had soaked the people, and the ground was muddy and slushy.

Lucia, who was waiting for the apparition of the Virgin Mary and praying in front of the small tree where she had appeared, suddenly felt an urge welling up inside her, and asked the people gathered to pray the rosary. As the people began to pray the rosary, the Virgin Mary appeared to the three children. When Lucia asked Our Lady what she wanted her to do, she said, “I am Our Lady of the Rosary. Please build a church here. Pray the rosary every day. Soon the war will be over, and the soldiers will come home.”

She also told Lucia, when asked about the healing of those gathered, “Some will be healed, some will not. People need to repent and change their way of life.” Our Lady also warned them not to anger God any further.

After delivering these messages, the Virgin Mary opened her hands to reflect the light of the sun and ascended into heaven. Lucia then shouted to the crowd, “Look at the sun!” At that moment, the clouds opened, the rain stopped, and the crowd saw the sun miraculously spinning, zigzagging, and plummeting toward them (Fatima for Today, p. 114). Even stranger, eyewitnesses testified that, although the sun shone brightly, it did not hurt the eyes of those who were watching it. (Fatima for Today, p. 113)

Natural science professor testifies to miracle

Dr. Gonzalo de Almeida Garrett, a professor of natural sciences at the University of Coimbra, was also there to witness the miracle of the sun. In this miracle, a multicolored light was seen by some, but not by others. Dr. Garrett testified to the fact that when the miracle occurred, the surroundings were tinted with an amethyst color.

The sun shone clearly and strongly, like a glowing disk, its edges were cleanly cut and did not hurt the eyes. On the other hand, I disagree with the comparison of the sun to a dull silver disk. The atmosphere was amethyst-colored due to a solar phenomenon, and the sky, the atmosphere, and everything around us was amethyst-colored. I feared that I had a retinal anomaly, but in that case I should not have been able to see purple. (Summarized from Aleteia)

However, what the three children saw was not the dancing sun, but visions of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the mysteries of the Rosary, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. After all the miracles were over, the people’s clothes, and even the ground, were completely dry.

I believe that this miracle of the sun took place for the sake of those who could not turn without experiencing a miracle of God.

When will the third secret be fulfilled?

Father Nicholas Gruner (1942-2015) was one of those who believed that the third secret has not been completely revealed.

Fr. Gruner on the Message of Fatima/ Your Last Chance Conference/ May 2012

In 1931, our Lord appeared to Sister Lucia. He again warned her that great misfortune would befall the world if the consecration of Russia were not carried out.

In this video, Fr. Gruner uses the prophecy of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to explain what the possible timing of God’s judgment might be, if the consecration of Russia is not accomplished.

On June 17, 1689, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Margaret. Margaret then explained to the King of France that our Lady had asked her to tell him to please consecrate the nation of France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, three generations of French kings continued to ignore the words of the Virgin Mary. Then, on June 17, 1789, exactly 100 years after the prophecy, the King of France was deprived of his royal prerogatives by the Third Estate. Less than four years later, he was executed by guillotine.

Father Gruner expressed his concern that the “time limit” of the Fatima request might also be 100 years, counting from 1931.

Benedict XVI: Pray for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

On May 13, 2010, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto (and seven years before the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions), Pope Benedict XVI gave a homily regarding the secrets of Jacinta, Francisco, and our Lady of Fatima. In this homily, the Pope made it clear that it would be a mistake to think that the prophetic mission of Fatima is complete.

He also introduced the words of Jacinta and Francisco with regard to their burning love for God. He emphasized the importance of faith, quoting the words of our Lord in Luke 11:28: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” He added that faith does not fail us, that it opens the horizon of hope, and that it is the foundation for a life without fear. Moreover, he expressed his hope that devotion to Our Lady of Fatima would spread throughout the world, and would hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph. (EWTN, Homily, Mass in Fatima 13 May 2010)

It has already been 19 years since Benedict XVI prayed that the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary would soon be fulfilled, but that silver lining is still not in sight. Given the state of the world today, it seems more likely that the horrors of World War III will come to pass first. On the other hand, Luke 21:9 says, “When you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” Hope remains, it seems.

Consecration not performed as requested by Our Lady of Fatima

The two conditions for avoiding the war prophesied by Our Lady are: first, the Five First Saturdays devotion as an atonement for the people’s blasphemy and insults to Our Lady, and second, the consecration of Russia, which only the Pope can do.

In the more than 100 years since the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prayers have been offered several times by successive Popes for the conversion and consecration of Russia. Unfortunately, none of the attempts at the Consecration of Russia have been carried out as Our Lady requested.

As the March 21, 2022 edition of LifeSite News explained:

The world’s bishops were invited, but not commanded, to join in the consecration.
It could also be said that the Five First Saturdays devotion, available to all the faithful, is not yet sufficiently popular or widespread. At any rate, the Fatima prophecy tells us that if the Consecration of Russia is not carried out, many nations will disappear from the earth.

I sincerely pray that the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will speedily be fulfilled, and that the world will be at peace.

Fatima Prophecy: The Appearance of the Virgin Mary (1)

Portugal is a fascinating country for Catholics. It has many beautiful and historic churches, including the Jerónimo Monastery, which is a World Heritage Site. Above all, it is the country where a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Lady of Fatima, took place.

Has Our Lady of Fatima been recognized by the Vatican as an authentic apparition?

The Virgin Mary of Fatima is known, even to non-Catholics, because of her miracles and her prophecies concerning the Last Judgment. Before believing in this apparition, however, it is important to check whether the Vatican has recognized it.

The Catholic Church has investigated numerous alleged apparitions of Our Lady. Traditionally, the Catholic Church takes time to recognize apparitions and other miracles; in the 20th century, a whopping 386 apparitions of Our Lady were reported to the Vatican with requests for approval, but, with regard to 299 of them, the Vatican has not given a definitive answer.

Of the remaining 87, the Church has decided in 79 cases that the alleged apparitions were not of a supernatural character. So, out of the 386 alleged apparitions, there are only eight cases in which the Church has decided that, yes, the events were of a supernatural character. Our Lady of Fatima is one of those eight cases.  (University of Dayton)

On October 13, 1930, José Alves Correia da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, deemed the Fatima apparitions worthy of belief and authorized a general devotion to the Virgin under the name Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. The feast day of Our Lady of Fatima was set for May 13, but, for a long time, it remained only a local feast.

In 1940, Pius XII declared that the apparition at Fatima was an authentic, supernatural apparition of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 2002, the feast day was included in the Universal Calendar of the Catholic Church, and it has remained an official feast day of the Church to this day.

The apparition of the Virgin Mary of Fatima to three shepherds

On Sunday, May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children, Lucia (1907-2005?), Lucia’s cousin Francisco (1908-1919), and his sister Jacinta (1910-1920); all three children lived in the small Portuguese village of Fatima.

It was Sunday, and the three children had gone to Mass early in the morning. After Mass, they took their flock of sheep to a place known as the Cova de Iria to graze. While the sheep were grazing, the three children spent their time eating lunch and praying.

It was a sunny day with blue skies. They were playing games as usual. Then, suddenly, they saw a strong light. Seeing the sudden light, the children thought it was lightning, and they hurried to get the sheep home. It was then that the second light shone. On top of a small holm oak tree, the three saw a glowing woman in a white dress. (Abridged from Fatima for Today, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R.)

Of the three, only Lucia was able to speak with the Virgin Mary. Francisco could see the Virgin, but he could not hear or speak to her. Lucia later said that the Virgin Mary looked like a young woman of about 17 years old (Fatima for today).

The three children, whose fates were as prophesied by Our Lady of Fatima.

Portuguese shepherd children Lucia dos Santos, center, and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, are seen in a file photo taken around the time of the 1917 apparitions of Mary at Fatima. (Public domain)

During the second apparition of the Virgin on June 13, when Lucia asked, “Will you take us to heaven?” the Virgin replied, “I will take Jacinta and Francisco immediately. You will stay here a little longer.”

Jacinta and Francisco died a few years later, just as Our Lady of Fatima had prophesied. They both died of the Spanish flu, Francisco on April 4, 1919, and Jacinta on February 20, 1920. Lucia then became a boarder at the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy at the age of 14, entered the convent in Tuy, Spain, as a postulant of the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, and made her first vows on October 3, 1928. On October 3, 1934, she took perpetual vows, and assumed the name Sister Mary of the Mother of Sorrows.

She returned to Portugal in 1946, and entered the Carmelite Convent of Santa Teresa in Coimbra in March 1948, where she remained for the rest of her life.

(Servant of God Lucia Santos | EWTN)

Jacinta and Francisco became the youngest non-martyr saints.

It is said that Francisco’s only dream was to go to heaven. Before his death, Jacinta, who was only seven years old, told Lucia that the Immaculate Conception would lead us on the path of salvation, which requires prayer, conversion, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Francisco and Jacinta, although they were young children, were endowed with a deep spirituality, and people even asked God to intercede for them through their prayers.

On May 13, 2000, Jacinta and Francisco were beatified by Pope John Paul II. On May 13, 2017 (the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima) they were canonized by Pope Francis. Their feast day is February 20.

Jacinta Pereiro Marto, a niece of Jacinta and Francisco, described them in an interview with CNA on the occasion of their canonization on April 20, 2017.

She said that Francisco was focused on “praising God, adoring God, worshiping God.” Jacinta, however, was primarily concerned with conversion, and desired that “everyone return to God, that everyone convert, that everyone go to heaven.”

The apparitions at Fatima, and the subsequent canonization of the children, clearly make manifest the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he said:

“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14).

The Mystery of Sister Lucia

After the early deaths of Jacinta and Francisco, Lucia, the only one left of the three, became a nun and eventually joined the Carmelites, but there has been great mystery surrounding Lucia since 1948.

According to official statements from the Vatican, Lucia died in 2005 at the age of 97. Many people, however, believe that she actually died long before, and that the Lucia who died in 2005 was not the real Sister Lucia of Fatima.

SISTER LUCIA TRUTH began working with various experts and medical professionals in 2017 to investigate whether it was indeed the real Sister Lucia who died on February 13, 2005. They compared photographs of Sister Lucia, as well as her handwriting and facial structure. The results are described below.

They have determined that two women actually existed: the real Sister Lucia, to whom our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917, and an imposter who presented herself as the real Sister Lucia of Fatima from at least May 13, 1967, until her death on February 13, 2005.

Since the truth has not yet been revealed, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to believe the results of their analysis. On the other hand, if one compares the 1946 and post-1967 photos of Sister Lucia, even a non-expert can clearly see in the 1967 photos a different person from the Lucia in 1946 photos. If there were two Sister Lucia’s, what on earth were they for? And where did the real Lucia disappear to?

Image: Statue of the image of Our Lady of Fatima

Continued in part two.

Life or Death: A Catholic Perspective on the Abortion Issue

In the past, I actually did not think that abortion was equivalent to murder, because I didn’t think much about it at all. When the issue of abortion was brought to my attention, and I researched it, and learned the facts about how the fetus grows and how it is aborted, I was horrified. I suspect that many pro-choice people are probably as ignorant of the truth about abortion as I used to be.

In this article, I would like to discuss why abortion is an important issue, and what the Catholic perspective on this issue is.

God’s Forgiveness and the Sin of Abortion in Catholicism

The teaching of the Catholic Church is that it is always wrong to willfully take the life of an innocent human being. An unborn child is human, and is obviously innocent. So, the killing of an unborn child, or abortion, is the taking of an innocent human life, and is therefore a mortal sin. If a person leaves this world with even one unrepented mortal sin, that sin will send him or her headlong into eternal hell. So, anyone who has committed or cooperated with the mortal sin of abortion, just as in the case of any other mortal sin, must make a good confession, sincerely asking God for forgiveness, in order for his or her soul to be redeemed.

What about non-Catholics?

As it turns out, even non-Catholics who do not make a sacramental confession can be forgiven and benefit from God’s grace, because God loves them. In one of my local priest’s sermons, he emphasized that, while it is true that our Lord Jesus Christ said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6), and even though Christ founded one Church, which he desires all men to join, it does not follow that everyone who is not Catholic must, necessarily, go to hell.

The priest explained that God’s forgiveness and grace sometimes operate in mysterious ways, without any outward and visible signs. The priest emphasized that, while we Catholics have the great advantage of the sacraments, nevertheless, God’s grace is available, in some way, to all people.

Does Having an Abortion mean Going to hell?

“We all make many mistakes” (James 3:2).

The priest stated that the people who go to hell are those who, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, reject the forgiveness and grace of God, who is love. God values free will above all else, and therefore cannot extend His salvation to those who willfully reject it.

What this means with regard to abortion is that, on the one hand, to have an abortion, or to pay for or otherwise cooperate with one, are grave sins that could potentially send a person to hell; on the other hand, any person, Catholic or not, who loves God, is sorry for having offended him, and truly repents of his or her sins (what is known as “perfect contrition”) can be forgiven by God for abortion or any other sin. “As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11).

Public Opinion on Abortion in the United States

In January 1972, the Supreme Court of the United States, in its decision in the Roe v. Wade case, ruled that all laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional. However, in June 2022, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, ruling that there is no constitutionally-protected “right” to abortion. That means that each of the fifty States is now free to prohibit abortion if it wishes to do so.

A subsequent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 62% of U.S. adults said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 36% said it should be illegal in all or most cases. Another survey found that relatively few Americans hold absolutist views on the issue.

The survey found that 83% of non-religious people are pro-choice. Among Christians, according to the survey, a majority of black Protestants (71%) and white non-evangelical Protestants (61%) take the position that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. But nearly three-quarters of white evangelicals (73%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

Are cultural Catholics pro-choice?

Also, according to the survey, 53% of Catholics believe that abortion is not morally wrong.

At first glance, this is a shocking result, but, of course, it is possible to get a different result by changing the way the survey questions are asked. Moreover, I believe that this number includes what are called “cultural Catholics.” Cultural Catholics are those who check the box for Catholic on the survey, but do not care about Catholic doctrine or morals, and do not attend Church regularly. Clearly, the 53% of Catholics who responded to the survey as indicated above are ignorant of doctrinal and moral matters.

Is Abortion the Answer?

One of the questions posed to those who oppose abortion is what to do if a woman becomes pregnant as the result of rape. As far as Catholics are concerned, abortion is not an option. This is true even if the rape victim has an unwanted pregnancy and the financial and psychological burden makes it difficult for her to have a baby.

Rape is a serious problem in the U.S. According to RAINN, a rape occurs every 68 seconds, and one in six women experience sexual victimization in their lives.

However, abortion has been found to have no positive outcome for rape victims. According to Live Action, 88 percent of rape survivors who choose to have an abortion regret it. Also, 93% of rape survivors who have had an abortion say they would not recommend abortion to others in the same situation.

Rape is an act of violence for which a woman bears no responsibility; abortion is an act of violence for which she is morally responsible. (Students for life of America)

Rape Survivors Speak Up, “I did not choose to be raped, nor did I choose to become pregnant. Nor did my child want me to become pregnant. I have no right to take his life because of the horrible situation that happened to me.” (Students for life of America)

One major problem that emerges from these facts is the misperception that abortion is the solution for a woman who has been victimized. There is also a need for more welfare and community support for women who are brave enough to choose to have a child. I have always resented the fact that victims of sexual crimes are subjected to further suffering after they have been victimized. I have always felt that giving women the “right” to abortion does not do anything to mitigate the damage caused by serious sex crimes.

Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, who assisted in the Roe v. Wade Decision

OB/GYN Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, known as “the Abortion King,” was a pro-choice activist who helped to bring about the victory of his side in the Roe v. Wade decision. However, ultrasound images caused Nathanson to change his mind about abortion.

He saw a fetus smiling, stretching, and wiggling its toes in the womb. He could also see the fetus shrinking away from the abortion equipment, which he felt was a sign that the fetus was in pain. After seeing the truth about the unborn child thanks to ultrasound, he founded the National Abortion Abolition Society. (For more about Dr. Nathanson, see Inside the Vatican.)

Dr. Nathanson calls abortion “the cruelest holocaust in American history.” The fetus is not a hunk of meat, but a human baby trying to escape the abortion apparatus. According to Pew Research Center abortions are on the decline in the United States. On the other hand, drug-induced abortions are on the rise. For example, even in the conservative state of Texas, where state law makes abortion illegal, drug abortions are up 1100% (Celebrate Life Magazine. Winter 2023, p. 30). The holocaust, as Dr. Nathanson calls it, is far from over.

Deuteronomy: Choosing Life

In the Bible, God commands us to choose life:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

The words “therefore choose life” are imperative in both the Japanese (Don Bosco Colloquial) and English (RSV) translations, as well as in the Greek, Latin, and some other English translations. One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not kill,” meaning, “Thou shalt not kill innocent people.” In other words, abortion is equivalent to murder.

The God who gave us life commanded us to “choose life.” We humans have no right to rewrite that divine command.

A Child whose Mother Chose Life

Ryan Bomberger, a child conceived as the result of a rape, is a Christian, a designer, an Emmy Award-winning artist, a songwriter, an author, and a “factivist” (Bomberger coined the word from “activist” and “fact.”)He wrote the song “Meant to Be” to thank his biological mother for her choice of life.

The song is a message to his mother, to thank her for giving him a life that has had, and continues to have, meaning in the past and in the present, as the English phrase “meant to be” suggests.

“MEANT TO BE” by Ryan Scott Bomberger – YouTube

What organizations are on the side of abortion “rights”?

Even though I am aware of the “pro-life” teaching, when I see news stories advocating the “right” to abortion, I often feel as though it might be okay for a woman to have an abortion if her pregnancy was the result of a sex crime, or if she has health problems. But the idea of compromising on abortion “rights” is a devious trick.

Satanic Temple, a pro-abortion group

The Satanic Temple, which was approved as a religious organization in 2019, continues to work for abortion “rights.” They say that they do not really worship the devil, but interestingly, they display images of the devil prominently on their website, and they actively support ideas that are contrary to Christianity.

As I read this news, I was reminded of the English saying, “If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it probably is a duck.” I thought to myself, with regard to the Satanic Temple, “If they look like Satanists, and act like Satanists…”

Fr. Gabriele Amorth, who was an exorcist, described how people who willingly violate God’s law are similar to the fallen angels:

“The original sins of the angels are the same as those who implicitly or explicitly adhere to Satanism. Angels and men who follow Satan base their existence on three principles and practical rules of life: you can do what you wish, that is, without subjugation to God’s laws; you obey no one; and you are the god of yourself.” (Catholic Exchange, April 19, 2023)

From the secular world’s point of view, when it comes to abortion, the Catholic Church and the Satanic Temple, as described above, are just two odd but colorful groups with a difference of opinion. It would seem as if the problem would be solved if those who take a stand against abortion did not impose their anti-abortion values on others.

For the pro-life movement, however, the right to life, from conception to natural death, is not only a religious dogma, but also a basic principle of natural law, part of the foundation of a just and stable society. A society that does not protect or care for its most vulnerable members will eventually dissolve into the anarchy of “might makes right.”

“Abortion rights” or “freedom of choice” (the choice of a woman to have an abortion or not) might sound like a good idea at first, but those who support this idea, like their (acknowledged or unacknowledged) leader, the devil, have an ungodly agenda. And the devil’s goal is always the destruction of society, of the family, of the Church, and of souls.

Life over Political Correctness

The topic of abortion is complicated by many factors: political, moral, and religious. Recent social trends, strongly left-wing, have made opposition to abortion out of step with the political correctness of “mainstream” society. Catholics have even been called extremists, and have even been arrested for praying in front of abortion clinics—not rioting, not violence, but merely praying.

The issue of abortion is often thought to entail a conflict between religious beliefs and secular values. This causes some people (on both sides) to become very emotional. And yet, abortion is not the sort of issue that one should make up one’s mind about based only on one’s own personal feelings. A clear understanding of this issue does not depend on one’s feelings about religion. Even atheists can understand, with reason alone, that abortion is wrong. (See, for example, this webpage: Secularprolife)

The choice between life and death does not depend on political correctness or religious dogma, but on human nature. The world should not become a place where “choosing life” is considered extremist.

I strongly hope and pray that the day will come soon when all lives will be protected by civil law, in accordance with natural law and God’s will.

Image: Virgin Mary and baby Jesus